Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: As Fitz, an outcast and the bastard son of Prince Chivalry, grows to manhood, a legacy of magical skill and other mysterious talents propels him into the role of protector of the kingdom, if his initial perilous mission does not destroy him first.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman: Days before his release from prison, Shadow learns that his wife has been killed in an accident. On the plane ride back home for the funeral, he meets Mr. Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Shadow accepts but soon discovers that Mr. Wednesday is far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.
Bone Clocks by David Mitchell: Beginning in 1984 and moving in linear fashion through the years before ending in the 2040s, this complex, layered novel interweaves several different narratives to tell the story of a secret war between those who would steal souls and those who try to stop them.
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin: The aristocratic Stark family faces its ultimate challenge in the onset of a generation-long winter, the poisonous plots of the rival Lannisters, the emergence of the Neverborn demons, and the arrival of barbarian hordes.
Homeland by R. A. Salvatore: Drizzt Do’Urden, the honorable prince of a royal house in Menzoberranzan, must choose whether or not he can continue to live in his immoral homeland.
Mort by Terry Pratchett: Unable to be objective, Mort, Death’s bumbling apprentice, kills an assassin instead of Keli, the princess who should have been his victim.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman: Harboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: A hero named Kvothe, now living under an assumed name as the humble proprietor of an inn, recounts his transformation from a magically gifted young man into the most notorious wizard, musician, thief, and assassin in his world.
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan: In a twenty-fifth century world in which death is nearly obsolete, former UN envoy Takeshi Kovacs, re-sleeved into a new body after a brutal death, finds himself caught in the middle of a deadly far-reaching conspiracy.
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross: The father of modern computer science, Alan Turning paves the way for esoteric mathematical computations that, when used by Nazi Germany’s Ahnenerbe-SS to perform a summoning, results in an unexpected evil brought to Earth through a portal to an alternate universe.
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson: More than fifty years after Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse and Sergeant Bobby Shaftoe are assigned to Detachment 2702, a secret cryptographic mission, their grandchildren join forces to create a “data haven” in the South Pacific, only to uncover a massive conspiracy with roots in Detachment 2702.
Dune by Frank Herbert: Set on the desert planet Arrakis, this is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family, and bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.
Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge: When scientists of the Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.
Foundation by Isaac Asimov: A band of psychologists, under the leadership of psychohistorian Hari Seldon, plant a colony to encourage art, science, and technology in the declining Galactic Empire and to preserve the accumulated knowledge of humankind.
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey: When Captain Jim Holden’s ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: Enlisting in the army on his seventy-fifth birthday, John Perry joins an interstellar war between Earth and alien enemies who would stake claims on the few existing inhabitable planets, unaware that the conflict involves much more than he understands.
Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold: Cordelia Naismith, Betan Survey Captain, was expecting the unexpected: hexapods, floating creatures, odd parasites . . . She was not, however, expecting to find hostile humans on an uninhabited planet. And she wasn’t really expecting to fall in love with a 40-plus barbarian known to cosmopolitan galatics as the Butcher of Komarr.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: An actor playing King Lear dies onstage just before a cataclysmic event changes the future of everyone on Earth. What will be valued and what will be discarded?
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi: Living in a future where food is scarce, Anderson Lake tries to find ways to exploit this need, as he comes into conflict with Jaidee, an official of the Environmental Ministry, and encounters Emiko, an engineered windup girl who has been discarded by her creator.